BIC administrators, teachers address public on proposed millage increase

BIC administrators, teachers address public on proposed millage increase

LEACHVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A city-wide power outage in Monette forced Buffalo Island School District Administrators to change the venue for a public meeting on a proposed millage increase.

The meeting, that was supposed to be held at 7 in Monette was moved to Leachville and began around 7:15 in the BIC East Elementary cafeteria.

The lunchroom was nearly full when BIC Superintendent Gaylon Taylor began the meeting. His opening statements addressed tensions between Monette and Leachville over the past two weeks in regards to the proposed millage.

"I would be mistaken if I didn't get up here and say I'm a little bit disappointed. The way we're acting, the way we're acting as adults. Everybody is entitled to the yes, everybody is entitled to the no but there's no reason to make this thing ugly," Taylor said.

In September, residents will vote on the proposed millage increase to fund a $19.5 million school that would bring the district's four campuses together as one for Pre-K thru 12th grade.

The proposed 9 mill increase would last 30 years.

There are signs for and against the proposed millage increase throughout Monette and Leachville. Those against the proposal say they want to keep their prospective schools in their own towns.

However, those who work at the school district spoke Tuesday night as to why the split campus set-up they've had for the past three decades hasn't and won't work.

"Our kids in this area deserve the best, the very best. But we don't have the very best right now," Faith Rolland said. "We have the very best teachers, we have the very best kids, we have the very best administrators but we do not have the very best facilities."

Teachers and administrators cited safety issues in the buildings, some of which were built in the 1950s. Wasted money was also discussed. Administrators said not only is a lot of money spent trying to fix the dilapidated buildings but thousands of dollars were spent last year paying teachers to travel to and from the different campuses in Leachville and Monette.

Rolland has worked in the school district for 23 years. She told those in the audience that this shouldn't be about whose town the school is in, it should be about the kids.

"I'm not voting for the millage because I am a teacher, I am voting for the millage for my kids. I don't have any kids but every kid that's been in my classroom is one of my kids and I've been at this so long, I've got grandkids now in this school," Rolland said.

While there were people in the audience both for and against the proposed 9 mill increase, one resident offered a solution to those who are saying no.

"If you've got something that will work within that same budget, they need some recommendations. If not, you need to get that sign out of your yard and get you a 'yes' sign."

Administrators also told residents that if the millage does not pass September 16, the district will not give up.

"Our first effort cannot be our last effort if this fails," Dr. Kima Stewart said. "We're simply cheating our kids. What we're offering them is substandard."

Superintendent Taylor said another meeting will be held Thursday in Leachville at 7 p.m. One more meeting will take place in Monette on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.

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